Rockets set, minus a Foote

It looks as though the Kelowna Rockets will be one player short of their full squad when they open up a new Western Hockey League season, Saturday.

Forward Nolan Foote is the only player not back from NHL camp.

Foote, a first round selection of the Tampa Bay Lightning in June, impressed the coaching staff in Tampa after making his professional debut Wednesday.

He may have earned a second game. But, with the Rockets season opener just a day away, Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton says waiting is frustrating.

"I know Nolan Foote isn't going to play for the Tampa Bay Lightning this year, and it would be nice to have him back to start the season," said Hamilton.

"Especially this year. This is a significant year for the organization with the Memorial Cup. It's just having our entire team here so our coaching staff is settled in. It lets us get down to our numbers."

Six other players who were at NHL camps have all come back to the team. The last, defenceman Kaedan Korczak, returned Wednesday from the Vegas Golden Knights camp.

The Rockets will head into the regular season with 25 players on the roster, including Foote. That includes 15 forwards, seven defencemen and three goaltenders.

At some point, the Rockets will have to make a decision on their goaltending situation. Teams never like carrying three netminders for too long because there is not enough work for any of them at practice or in games.

However, Hamilton says he is not in an immediate rush to make a decision.

"I think all three played OK. I thought (Roman) Basran played real good the last game, and (James) Porter was good for two periods, then they got to him. And, (Cole) Schwebius has been real good," said Hamilton.

"We have a slow start because we only play once the first weekend, then we have three in a row the next weekend, so they are probably all going to get some work to see who's doing what."

As for any moves as the Rockets head into a Memorial Cup year, Hamilton says he needs to see what he has once the entire roster get a chance to play a few games.

The club has added five players via trade, and Hamilton says he needs to see how they mesh with the roster.

The Rockets host Spokane Saturday to kick off the regular season.

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